Small-town America is unfortunately a very small-minded place. When I first moved to Smithfield I thought that it was strange that so many people were making racist statements to me without a thought that I might not actually think I’m superior to other races due to my lily-white skin. Going from that small town to an even smaller town served to really show me the kind of problems that are still lingering in the US.
When I first started hearing racist statements about how black people are impossible to please and how Mexicans can’t afford to tip, I was so stunned that I had no idea how to respond. Not only was the person I was talking to being flagrantly racist, but they assumed that I shared their views and it was nothing to make such a statement to me and expect support in return. It got to the point where as soon as a person of color walked into the salon I was working at, I got a sinking queasy feeling.
Meanwhile, skip ahead a few years and I moved to an even smaller town. Now I was suddenly hearing people suggesting that I avoid going to an establishment because it was run by foreigners who didn’t speak English well and a hairdresser who told me to avoid Vietnamese nail salons because the Vietnamese were such dirty people. After the hairdresser said that to me, something inside me snapped.
I’m tired of people thinking that talking like that is acceptable or in anyway appropriate. It’s not and the next time someone says something racist to me, they’re going to hear about how much I don’t appreciate it, in detail. I’m done trying not to embarrass people, I’m done trying to be nice, I’m done laughing it off. This is 2013 and if you want to say racist shit to me, you’re going to hear about how I think it’s wrong and small-minded.
No one should be walking around thinking that saying racist shit is normal or acceptable. It’s not. And it’s time that I let my views be heard. People can do with that whatever they want. But let it get around to everyone in that tiny town that I’m not going to sit idly by while someone is being a bigot.
It is my hope that one day I will be able to go to any small town and not have to hear people saying racist things. But should this happen again, the person being racist is going to know that I don’t appreciate it. I’ve been quiet for long enough. Things need to change.